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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Having been impressed with a lunchtime ship visit in 2015, we found a local cruise at reduced price. The ship was very spacious and clean and well kept... as was the cabin (balcony) but as usual access the storage was not ideal although ... Read More
Having been impressed with a lunchtime ship visit in 2015, we found a local cruise at reduced price. The ship was very spacious and clean and well kept... as was the cabin (balcony) but as usual access the storage was not ideal although adequate (11 nights).....door opening in front of wardrobe, some drawers high up as was the safe. One of our, not overly large, suitcases wouldn't fit under the bed. The bathroom had a tub (unused) with a shower that of course sprays on the floor. The separate shower was good size as was the water pressure. The towels were thick but small ( being larger people ). Dining was excellent for food, service and choices. We tried all the speciality restaurants and were able to try three again as we were not fussy about times and sharing. I don't know if concierge level helped here. The seven course with seven wines, for extra, was more than excellent. In the casual restaurant you were served from the available choices, then at your table for drinks. I liked this method, although some people still used their hands to pick up food. Being smaller ships, embarkation worked well at Southampton.. we live close by. After a short time queuing you were confirmed to be a passenger, then the scanning, then the booking in and then onto the ship. All that was missing was a glass of champagne as you boarded. I didn't find any of the enrichment lectures appealing so didn't go! We only managed three evening entertainments, not really our style. The music around the ship was good. Never intended to try the gym, and didn't. The spa facilities looked good. The shore excursions seemed expensive. In most ports we were visiting friends so did our own thing. Disembarkation was through the tannoy, all off by 0900 It was a gourmet, relaxing cruise. I would go again for a special occasion. I was however disappointed with fellow passengers dress. Jeans and polos for dinner!! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This was our second cruise on Oceania. We received a lot of press on the new Sirena. We booked a Penthouse SG2 with no specific stateroom. This was a first for us not having a Stateroom; one of their promotions. We were going to be in ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Oceania. We received a lot of press on the new Sirena. We booked a Penthouse SG2 with no specific stateroom. This was a first for us not having a Stateroom; one of their promotions. We were going to be in Europe so all seemed good; bad decision. We did not realize nor did our travel agent, that Oceania advises you of your stateroom the day before sailing. Thus you options to select another stateroom or cancel was not an option. My recommendation would be never to book a cruise without you knowing where you will be. As to the ship, the Sirena is a 17 year old ship and it still looks like it. Other than make all the staterooms smaller to gain more revenue, it is a mystery as to where the money went. The biggest shock was the size of the Penthouse. It had no closets and very limited space to put your clothes. Any cruise over 12 days would be an issue. The bathroom is a joke. You can almost take a shower, go to the toilet, and shave without moving. The width of the bathroom is so small it is hard to describe it. The shower is approx. 3’X 4’ I feel sorry for the passengers that did not have penthouses. On the positive side, the food was great. The ports we visited were great. The disappointment was their decision to stop in a great port on Sunday when 90% of the sights were closed. They stayed there the full day loading ship supplies. Making things worse, is the ship hit an underground cable due to a Pilot error. We had to stay another day in port and miss a great port that was on the itinerary. They offered everyone a $200.00 shipboard credit on a future cruise; they can keep it. I strongly recommend you stay from this ship if you want to experience a great cruise; there competitors offer such better choices Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Coming off of a RSSC cruise on Voyager, also in Scandinavia, expectations were high. Oceania, while not the same all-inclusive experience, offered better dining and an altogether better value proposition as well as a more lively crowd. ... Read More
Coming off of a RSSC cruise on Voyager, also in Scandinavia, expectations were high. Oceania, while not the same all-inclusive experience, offered better dining and an altogether better value proposition as well as a more lively crowd. Our PH1 suite, 8030, was extremely well located, quiet, clean, and well maintained though wardrobes and bathroom were a bit small, at 6'3" had to duck to use the shower. Early embarkation was a breeze and luggage delivery was less than one hour after getting access to our cabin. Specialty dining at Polo and Toscana were great and offered twice in each restaurant as suite passengers on the 10 night cruise. In MDR suite status seemed to ensure (not an advertised perk) seating at prime 2-top tables by the windows unless we requested group seating. We opted for top-flight beverage package based on number of sea days, but wouldn't opt for this again as we felt "pressure" to make the most of it. Have read other reviews that pan this ship, I understand that there was an unfortunate fire and norovirus outbreak on the ship which seem to have pushed down the overall score. Our experience was top-notch and we would have no reservations about booking on Insignia again. In fact we enjoyed the cruise so much we booked another on Riviera for next year. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
If you love the Nautica, Insignia or Regatta you will love the Sirena - it is the same ship (almost). I have done over 35 cruises and 10 on Oceania. I sailed on the Sirena when it was the R4 and when it was the Pacific Princess. I love ... Read More
If you love the Nautica, Insignia or Regatta you will love the Sirena - it is the same ship (almost). I have done over 35 cruises and 10 on Oceania. I sailed on the Sirena when it was the R4 and when it was the Pacific Princess. I love Oceania and loved our most recent cruise from Barcelona to Lisbon. Some observations - Oceania billed this as a "renovated" ship" - I was not able to see much "renovation". New bed and new carpet - but that was about it. The food in the Grand Dinning room was even better than before and we chose it over the specialty restaurants on occasion. The loss of the Polo Grill is no big deal and the addition of Red Ginger is great. But Tuscan does not compare to Toscana - Tuscan was actually quite disappointing. Saw too many kids on the cruise - never saw that before on Oceania - not well received by the typical Oceania passenger. Oceania entertainment has always been third rate - they added a small production group to our cruise and it improved to 2nd rate. I had hoped with the presence of NCL that the entertainment would improve. The rooms are comfortable and the room attendants are terrific. As usual, Oceania's tours are grossly over priced and we continue to book our own when possible - did twice as much in Casablanca for 1/3 of the cost by booking our own tour. I see that a number of reviewers complained about how hard it is to get additional reservations at the specialty restaurants. You should know that the higher priced cabins can make reservations on line early - before the cruise and also get more guaranteed reservations. You need to go to the Terrace Cafe during the day and ask to put on wait list for the specialty restaurants. All in all - it was Oceania - we just booked two more cruises on them! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
The destinations of Iceland and Greenland were new to us and were as hoped for. We had sailed with Oceania before on Insignia and thoroughly enjoyed it with good shows and lectures. This one was different as the shows were poor ... Read More
The destinations of Iceland and Greenland were new to us and were as hoped for. We had sailed with Oceania before on Insignia and thoroughly enjoyed it with good shows and lectures. This one was different as the shows were poor (although did improve at the end of the trip) and the excuse of all cabins booked so no room for entertainers did not wash! And the single lecturer was, in our opinion, awful. The library was OK but seemed to be based on the NY times bestsellers. There are much better libraries on other ships. The food was fine, the wine list better than expected and the service was excellent. We will need to go on an extended diet as the sweets were perhaps too sweet! We particularly liked the daily updates from the captain, entertaining and informative. Would we go again? Only if the itinerary was really good and the main competition did not offer a similar deal. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Chose this cruise for the interesting itinerary. We had been to Iceland and Faroes 3 years ago and enjoyed it so much we wanted to go back, also this cruise featured 2 stops in Greenland which we wanted to see. The last time we sailed on ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the interesting itinerary. We had been to Iceland and Faroes 3 years ago and enjoyed it so much we wanted to go back, also this cruise featured 2 stops in Greenland which we wanted to see. The last time we sailed on Oceania (Regatta & Insignia) was 2005 and 2007 respectively. We were interested to see how ship experience has change in these years and the (possible) effect of the influence of the new parent company NCL has on the cruise experience. It is important to say that we went on the cruise with a very bitter taste as we had booked in October 2015 and paid in full in February 2016 at a so called special offer only to find that in May 2016 Oceania had reduced our equivalent cabin category by a whopping 48%. It took me and my travel agent nearly a month to try and resolve this situation. Oceania UK were most unhelpful in doing anything to compensate us for this. Eventually, I wrote to Frank del Rio (CEO Oceania) and Jason Montague (President NCL) and they got the UK office, Bernard Carter MD, to offer us many extra packages which we had to take instead of getting any cash refund. Because they had so many issues regarding this type of pricing offer Oceania have introduced their price promise called BPG, best price guarantee. My advice is to check that they will honour the BPG when yo book or better still wait for the price to drop nearer to sailing date and get a "last minute deal". Despite the above our cruise overall was very good. Never rate anything or anyone excellent as they have nothing left to achieve. The downside of Nautica and the other R ships in the fleet is that the bathrooms are very small. Our outside view cabin was good although the decorations are showing signs of ageing. We were on Deck 4 which is very convenient for the main dining room and Nautica Lounge. Oceania lacks a lot of daytime activities that are offered on larger ships. The entertainment team of 4 have to organise the so called "sporting" activities and also perform their evening production shows. The only lecture was fairly interesting but seemed to think that passengers (his shipmates) were only going to visit the local pubs in every port of call. Oceania is noted for it's dining (food) experience and overall this was very good. The main criticism was the limited variety of vegetarian dishes on offer. They seem to give fancy names for every menu item. The service in the Grand Dining Room was slow on a number of occasions. The Polo Grill and Toscana were very nice. If you like your food hot, as we do, be sure to ask and remind your waiter as at most meals we had to send our soup and main course back as it was only cool in temperature. The entertainment was quite good but again very limited. The Cruise Director Julie James was excellent and apologised that because the cruise was oversold there was not the availability of cabins for more entertainers. The Wi-Fi internet on the ship was very,very,very poor. Luckily we had an unlimited package because if we had to pay for it we would have needed a mortgage at their prices. The shore excursions were well organised but very poor value for money, Again we had 5 shore excursions included in our extras package so if we would have paid for them they were an expensive rip off. My advice is to book your tours independently. All the ports were very good and apart from Dublin, where only one shuttle bus ran on the hour, we enjoyed the tendering and shuttle service/ Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Have done many cruises on the Nautica. Love the small ship atmosphere and the\of the ability of the ship to stop in smaller ports. The ship is beautifully decorated and easy to negotiate. There is a great selection of dining choices ... Read More
Have done many cruises on the Nautica. Love the small ship atmosphere and the\of the ability of the ship to stop in smaller ports. The ship is beautifully decorated and easy to negotiate. There is a great selection of dining choices and all are delicious. The speciality restaurants are especially nice and they are included. We downgraded to a obstructed view cabin and were not bothered by the loss of square footage. Still had a good sized window. The service on the ship has always been first class. The cruise director and staff did a wonderful job keeping passengers informed. The ports were interesting but don't expect sunbathing weather. The ship offered a wide variety of tours and excursions. We were able to do several of the ports on our own and didn't use the ship's tours. Dublin was a fun port. Will not hesitate to cruise on the Nautica in the future. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This cruise was beautiful and interesting, far more so than we expected. It was a Southampton round trip, themed around the Vikings. The itinerary was: Edinburgh, Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Akureyri and Isafjordur in northern ... Read More
This cruise was beautiful and interesting, far more so than we expected. It was a Southampton round trip, themed around the Vikings. The itinerary was: Edinburgh, Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, Akureyri and Isafjordur in northern Iceland, an all day navigation of the staggeringly beautiful Prince Kristian Fjord in Greenland, followed by Paamiut and Qaqortoq in Greenland, then back to Reykjavik for two days, then Derry, Belfast, and Dublin Ireland. That is a lot of ocean to cover so there are 5-6 sea days. We loved the natural beauty, it was like witnessing a very new Earth, with evidence of volcanoes, glaciers, earth quakes, and seismic plates(we put one foot on the Eur-Asian plate and the other on the American, while they were venting steam and slowly separating!) Culturally and historically the trip was fascinating. We love the Oceania smaller ships. We particularly appreciate the friendly and competent staff. The dining options aren't vast, but the Grand Dining room is pleasant and the selection is broad enough to not be boring after three weeks. The two specialty dining rooms are Toscana, Italian, obviously, and Polo, a steak house; they require reservations but no extra fees. We do not go to the entertainment, enrichment activities, or the buffet venue, so we can't give information about those things. We are too busy researching the next destination or reading our books. We always book private guides with our cruise critic "friends" and then it is such fun to finally meet on the ship. The only drawback is the glacially slow internet, but it was recently announced that Oceania is updating the capacity and speed. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
While having cruised about 25-30 times on various popular lines, this was our first cruise on an Oceania ship. We chose this one for it's itinerary which included Scotland, Shetland and Faroe Islands, Ireland, Greenland, and Iceland ... Read More
While having cruised about 25-30 times on various popular lines, this was our first cruise on an Oceania ship. We chose this one for it's itinerary which included Scotland, Shetland and Faroe Islands, Ireland, Greenland, and Iceland (multiple ports). We met many lovely fellow cruisers. The ship is richly elegant, not glitzy like the more popular lines. The room was pleasant (veranda), but the shower was quite small! The one disappointment was the food, which Oceania makes a big deal about. We found it to be good, but no better than Celebrity, Royal Carib, or others. While the cruise was more expensive , we found the OLife incentives to be quite worthwhile. Taking this into consideration, the price difference was not that much to be concerned about. Would we travel on Oceania again? Absolutely! What we found particularly interesting was that the breakfast and lunch buffets were served to us. We did not handle the serving pieces ourselves. Therefor the passing of germs from one person to another was greatly diminsihed. The was an absence of sickness and coughing, so prevalent on other lines. Very nice! Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We have sailed on Oceania 5 times on their smaller ships and loved them. We were a bit nervous about the bigger ships, thinking it might lose that personal touch, but it was great. Even with 1000 people, nothing ever seemed crowded. The ... Read More
We have sailed on Oceania 5 times on their smaller ships and loved them. We were a bit nervous about the bigger ships, thinking it might lose that personal touch, but it was great. Even with 1000 people, nothing ever seemed crowded. The staff was outstanding and the food was wonderful. Oceania always has slightly more imaginative itineraries than the other luxury lines, like Seabourn and Silversea. All of the specialty restaurants were excellent and Jacques was especially delicious.I had lobster Thermidor and crepes Suzette - utter decadence. The cooking stations are a super addition to the ship. The regular veranda cabin was very comfortable - we usually opt for the penthouse cabins on the smaller ships, but we're fine in the regular veranda cabin. There was a great mix of passengers on board and an equally nice mix of staff. The Riviiera as a beautiful ship,, the art work isn't to my taste, but that is personal. All in all, a great cruise Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We are a retired couple that took the cruise for the 20 port visits, with the expectation that we would see and enjoy many new places. The ship itself was excellent. Embarkation was easy and the veranda stateroom was large enough to be ... Read More
We are a retired couple that took the cruise for the 20 port visits, with the expectation that we would see and enjoy many new places. The ship itself was excellent. Embarkation was easy and the veranda stateroom was large enough to be comfortable for the long cruise. The food and service was excellent and the fitness room was large enough for the number of people using it. Unfortunately, the support for the excursions was poor. A few weeks before embarking, Oceania notified us of a cut of 8 hours in five ports in the first part of the cruise, and 3 hours in 3 ports in the second. In addition, the ship was late in arriving a couple of times. Obviously, all of this reduced the time for the tours that were already purchased. We bought 10 excursions from Oceania to get the 25% discount and arranged 10 independent tours. Of the Oceania tours, one was excellent but the others were disappointing in quality, particularly considering that they were much more expensive than the independent excursions. Of the independent tours, five were excellent. Oceania is now bundling the sale of their excursions for about half of the ports of a cruise in the price of the cruise. Disembarkation was easy. In all, Oceania did not meet our expectations for the quality of the in-port experiences (including the operational issues mentioned), and their current policy of requiring the purchase of their excursions means that you cannot just arrange your own excursions. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
Long-time cruisers, first time on Oceania. CABIN: We were in Penthouse Suite 11058. BEST cabin for size and amenities: huge walk-in closet, so much storage space we had empty drawers - even with all the winter clothes we dragged ... Read More
Long-time cruisers, first time on Oceania. CABIN: We were in Penthouse Suite 11058. BEST cabin for size and amenities: huge walk-in closet, so much storage space we had empty drawers - even with all the winter clothes we dragged along for the wet, cool British weather. Bathroom with shower & a separate tub (wish it had been a whirlpool) was large with plenty of his/her medicine cabinets & Bulgari products. Location of the cabin not so great - lots of overhead foot traffic. Thank goodness for our white noise machine. SHOPPING/ENTERTAINMENT: OK - not quite big ship style but adequate. Our favorite was the piano & quartet playing at various times around the ship. Very relaxing & enjoyable. Casino is small & limited but at least there is one. Few boutiques & shopping was mediocre. LIBRARY: BEST of any ship we have ever been on. Very extensive and comfortable places to sit & read. FOOD: Really? This is supposed to be the best ship for food? I have never eaten so much bland, tasteless food. We finally avoided the main dining room & just went to the Terrace Cafe so we could sample lots of different food til we could find something really enjoyable. Breakfast was very boring after a few days . . same food, everyday. Scrambled eggs are out of a package so you have to ask for real eggs. Limited choice of cold cereal and the bananas were stored in the refrigerator so were mushy. The fresh fruit, especially, the cantaloupe & honeydew were DELICIOUS & SWEET. SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS: The Polo Grill, Toscana & Jacques were favorites. Many choices & flavorful food. Doesn't make sense why this ship can offer great food in the specialty restaurants, which do not cost extra, and not provide the same flavor & quality in the dining room. SHORE EXCURSIONS: The most over-priced tours. As a result, booked all of our own private tours in each port. Ended up seeing twice as much driving around in Mercedes comfort. Two days we had to anchor & take the tender to port. Clearly, the staff has no idea how to handle distribution of tender passes. This was a debacle and something Oceania needs to remedy quickly. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2015
We have sailed several times before, but this our first on Oceania. We were offered a great deal to change our Oceania South American cruise to this one, so we took it. We were given a penthouse suite with a butler. It also entitled us to ... Read More
We have sailed several times before, but this our first on Oceania. We were offered a great deal to change our Oceania South American cruise to this one, so we took it. We were given a penthouse suite with a butler. It also entitled us to 3 nights in each specialty restaurant. The room was spacious and had a tub shower. What a treat! We sailed from Southampton to Edinburgh, then to the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands and to Akureryi, Iceland. Things went well until we were headed to Greenland for two stops. Because of ice floes (in late June) we were unable to go to our planned locations. Instead, we went around Greenland to Nuuk, Greenland's capitol. We all made the best of it. Unfortunately, because of the change in plans and the slower sailing due to icebergs in the area, we missed time in Reykjavic and missed Londonderry all together. We added three days at sea, but we were safe. We stopped at Belfast, Liverpool and Dublin before returning to Southampton. We did not take any Oceania shore excursions, but booked private ones ourselves. They all turned out well. Oceania provided two wonderful lecturers. Because of the extra sea days, more lectures were presented. That really helped. Also, there were games throughout the day. The trivia team contests were very competitive. The other entertainment ranged between very good and so-so. The staff was wonderful. They always had good attitudes and made us feel welcome. Ray, the cruise director, was a hoot. The food was great in all venues. We usually do not frequent the buffet, except at lunch, but it was so good and plentiful, we had breakfast there too. The specialty restaurants were good as was the main dining room. The passengers, as a group, were older. But we met some of the most wonderful people. Because the amount of passengers is relatively small (under 700), we got to know so many interesting people with great stories. It was a lovely cruise and well worth the money. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We looked at a 40-page description of excursions and selected one for Glasgow that included a residence and a tea room designed by an architect named Macintosh. We weren't all that excited about it, but at least it took us on a bus ... Read More
We looked at a 40-page description of excursions and selected one for Glasgow that included a residence and a tea room designed by an architect named Macintosh. We weren't all that excited about it, but at least it took us on a bus to Glasgow so it was better than the other options. Then when we got the printed itinerary, we checked the description again, and it still included Glasgow. When we got on the ship, there was a 5 page leaflet that highlighted all the excursions, in case you wanted to add one or two more. The leaflet had an insert that highlighted the changes (they were all “this one is for 4 hours instead of 3 ½” and similar notations. A couple were cancelled for lack of interest, but none of our excursions were on the “changed” insert.) When we went to the residence, we were told we had 2 hours to look around because that was our only stop. We asked about the trip into Glasgow, but were told that was not on the guide’s itinerary. When we got back to the ship (never making it into Glasgow) we complained about it. (Imagine having the ship go to a port and never seeing the main town.) We never got an answer. One of the other people in our party was told that we all were advised of the change because the new description was in our 5 page leaflet that was in our stateroom when we arrived. So, let’s see how this works. We pour over the 40 page descriptions, pick what we want, check the descriptions in our printed itinerary to make sure it is correct, and then get switched to something else because we should have read the new leaflet when we got on the boat to discover it had been changed. We are used to the excursions being disappointing (last year’s full-day excursions to Florence and Rome felt like they were designed and executed by Larry Darrel and Darrel), but we didn’t expect this. The food was, as always, excellent, as long as you stay out of the Italian Restaurant. (I would suggest swapping it out on the Nautica for a Red Ginger.) We solved the disappointing problem of dealing with poor flight connections that Oceania draws up (and charges you more for) by driving to Chicago to get a direct flight. And unlike the Marina, where there is value to a concierge level veranda suite, the Nautica has no concierge lounge. So except for a bottle of Champaign that we didn’t drink, I have no idea what we received for the extra charge. Maybe I was getting spoiled by sailing on the Marina, but I don’t think we will try the smaller ships again, and I am concerned about the bait and switch, and then being blown off when we asked for some kind of an explanation. It makes me wonder if the sale of the line means less attention to guests concerns. The experience left a bad taste, especially for a loyal customer. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
1. Ship size - just right. Considered the small end of a mid-size ship. Very clean. 2. Crew to passenger ratio - not 1 t 1 but close. 3. Crew/steward/waiter service - absolutely marvelous. Alway a smile and greeting from someone ... Read More
1. Ship size - just right. Considered the small end of a mid-size ship. Very clean. 2. Crew to passenger ratio - not 1 t 1 but close. 3. Crew/steward/waiter service - absolutely marvelous. Alway a smile and greeting from someone on the crew anytime, anywhere. Somewhat offputting at first. We are never are used to customer service like this. Just outstanding. 4. Tips - figured into your invoice. Only have to add to steward, waiter, etc if you think you rec'd exceptional service. 5. Depart/Arrival - easy; painless. Well organized. You get early boarding with a concierge level booking or better. 6. Food - every "best" you have ever heard about a top cruise ship. With a little will power, you can actually eat better and more selectively than another other place you might go. You can gorge or eat positively; take your choice. Buffet was alway overflowing w/vegetables, fish/shrimp/lobster tails, beef of some sort, main courses, sushi, desserts and on and on. Main dining room had food and service equal to the two (2) specialty restaurants on board. With concierge level booking, you get two meals at each of the specialty restaurants. Absolutely the best, most courteous service imaginable; any food selection was "to die for". Don't know much about wine? Just ask the wine steward. It may cost A LOT, but you'll have wine of a quality and taste you might never have experienced before. A real education given right at the table. Just plain fun. 7. Drink costs - really, really high. Drink programs were 'ouch' expensive, and you would have to drink yourself to death to make it worthwhile. Stay away if you can. A bottle of champagne and a red in your room on arrival. You can take these bottles to any of places you can eat. Will uncork for you and serve graciously. No charge. You can bring a bottle back on board. However, if you do this, there will probably be a charge to open. 8. Room - splendid! Good room to move around; good storage space for unpacking for the duration of the cruise. Very clean. IF you have any concern, they will take care of it for you yesterday. 9. Excursions - just as you have ever been warned before. Expensive. Some good; some not so good. Nothing that just blows your mind. Lots of city drive thrus enroute to a destination that were literally "drive-bys". Our trip to Loch Lomond dropped us at a small beach and cove that looked like anywhere USA. Had large mall area, so you know what the setup was for. Unless you are good at booking separate tours off the economy/off the boat, you are kind of caught. In retrospect, I would go to TripAdvisor, etc to see what I could find. Had to motor in at only one docking; easy and fun for something different. 10. Nightly shows and cruise director - cruise director was a hoot. Personable, overboard a little but just a fun guy. Shows were generally very good. Boat band/orchestra was above average. Ship's performers - some standouts; some should just sign harmony in the background. But worth attending most every night., 11. Misc - PM tea time; snack shack. Great and great again. You could eat breakfast and lunch or snack time here anytime if you just wanted some alone time away from the buffet or main dining room. Did not use the pool or spa. Workout area was well equipped for a ship. Watch out for the trainer - very nice guy who could get you to spend a fortune for most anything you might do at a regular gym/fitness center for free. Shopping - not a chance. No gambling either. Lots of folks were into it tho. OVERALL: High cost of drinks; high cost of excursions - nothing new. Rated five stars just because all the other things outranked these two downers. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
We sailed Oceania's “River Routes and Channel Crossings” aboard Marina from Montreal to Southampton in May and June. In some ways we had a fine trip, but Oceania fell well short of excellence. Checking in, and departing, took only ... Read More
We sailed Oceania's “River Routes and Channel Crossings” aboard Marina from Montreal to Southampton in May and June. In some ways we had a fine trip, but Oceania fell well short of excellence. Checking in, and departing, took only minutes. The ship is pretty from the outside and beautiful inside. Well decorated. Looks nearly brand new. The staterooms are attractive and comfortable, but are poorly designed, with cramped bathrooms and inaccessible storage space. Stewards were excellent. Food ranged from very good to excellent, sometimes superb. Lunch and dinner menus were adequately varied. The breakfast buffet didn't change much and needs enhancement. Scrambled eggs were substandard. Rolls and pastries, while good, were the same every day. Drink prices were somewhat reasonable. Restaurant service was sometimes good, sometimes slow. One evening in the main dining room we could overhear a disagreement between a waiter and a supervisor. Musical entertainment was good. The biggest problem on the cruise was poor planning and poor communication by Oceania. We arrived in one port on a local holiday, with shops and restaurants closed and few taxicabs available. Overall, the destination services desk provided little port information, couldn't answer basic questions, and once fibbed to us about the existence of a hop-on bus. Ship excursions were horribly overpriced. A television system in the staterooms often gave inaccurate information, or no information. Late in the cruise, in very legal language, we were advised that enteritis had infected some on the cruise. We were never told how many people were affected, how ill they were, what was done for them, and how the cruise would change. We noticed little impact. Crew were seen wiping chairs and the passenger laundry was closed, a great inconvenience. We were also told that because of “adverse weather” forecasts and “anticipated” winds and swells, the ports of Holyhead and Guernsey were canceled. Instead, we had a second day and evening in Dublin. Hardly a fair trade. Those two canceled ports were highlights for many passengers. We never did experience bad weather. Passengers were suspicious. Did Oceania include those ports to make the cruise more attractive, knowing that spring weather might very easily make them inaccessible? Did Oceania just want to save money by not cruising? Was Oceania overly cautious? We don't know, but we do know we did not get what we paid for. The captain could have explained things and offered everyone a couple of free drinks. But he was seldom heard from on the trip. Our main information source was a zany cruise director who offered little. She wouldn't even tell me how how many passengers were on the trip. Speculation was that 100 or more cabins were empty. In summation, while we had fun, this cruise could have been so much more. The management at Oceania is changing, and you have to wonder about the future. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
We felt compelled to write a review after reading review after review of complaints!! Really folks! It's appears to this reader that many reviewers attitudes need to be checked at the door! First, how in the world can so many ... Read More
We felt compelled to write a review after reading review after review of complaints!! Really folks! It's appears to this reader that many reviewers attitudes need to be checked at the door! First, how in the world can so many people remember everything they ate? Did they have a recorder at each meal and do they work for competing cruise lines???? Marina is an awesome vessel with awesome staff and crew!!!! The food is delicious! If one finds a complaint with a dish, simply ask for something different or a replacement. Wait staff will gladly accommodate ! If this is not handled,simply ask for Maître D! We were at a table where after eating three fourths of a steak, the guest said that it was cold!!!! We told the wait staff and they replaced it in a timely manner.... Room service is outstanding! Always yummy and on time breakfast ! Brendan and Ann always going above and beyond!!!! Room Stewards always kept room spotless and supplied twice a day!!!! Always kept us informed and never,never rushed us!!! Officers approachable ! Concierge's Jeff and Javier always accommodating BUT you have to ask if you have a need. Do not assume they know your needs!!! Special shout out to Emma and Lisa Excursions are very expensive if purchased from ship!!! Aside from the expense, the procedure for joining excursion is horrible !!! It's like a cattle call and then stampede to get to bus!!!! Alaska on Regatta was different and wonderful for each excursion! That being said, DESTINATION SERVICES ON THIS CRUISE WAS THE BEST WE HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED! We did ports on our own, many times using free shuttles! DESTINATION SERVICES STAFF WERE ALWAYS THERE TO HELP OUR EXPERIENCE ! And the disembarkation directed by this department was the smoothest LOUISA OF DESTINATION SERVICE IS ONE OF THE MOST SINCERE AND HELPFUL STAFF MEMBERS AND ALWAYS WITH A SMILE We were able to connect to the internet and never kicked off. In Dublin , due to port authority we could not connect, but there was lots of free wifi in Dublin. Ship internet is expensive and not lighting quick but not as slow as all the complaints!!! Entertainers were really trying to please the audience ! We realize it's not Broadway and many could complain about that!!! The orchestra , band and string quartets outstanding ! Guest lecturers great, especially Dr Rodger Cartwright engaging and informative! Cruise Director Julie James outstanding. Church services were held every Sunday! The staff and crew on this cruise was A+. Always polite ,many calling us by name at every turn! We felt community and family!!!! Hats off to you Hilde Crankshaw, Oceania Cruise Representative for helping us with all the particulars of this trip! You are always there for us! Bravo. Bravo. Bravo Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
This is our 30th cruise on 23 different cruise lines. I am 71, my wife is 63 and we have been crusing since 1979. In our cruises and other vacations we have visited 103 countries. You could say we are well traveled. The format of this ... Read More
This is our 30th cruise on 23 different cruise lines. I am 71, my wife is 63 and we have been crusing since 1979. In our cruises and other vacations we have visited 103 countries. You could say we are well traveled. The format of this review is “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the So So.” I take the term “cruise critic” seriously so this is not a “puff piece.” The Good The layout and design of these ships based on the old Renaissance 1 & 2 originals is ideal for the traveler who prefers smaller ships (650 passengers). Years ago these were considered mid-size ships but not anymore. The insignia has a rich color scheme and pleasant dark wood in the cabins and throughout the public spaces. It has an old world elegance feel that is very pleasing. We booked this cruise because it is the size of ship we like and the unique itinerary. An itinerary that included Honfleur, Portland-Weymouth, Milford Haven, Dublin, La Coruna, Bilbao, Bordeaux, Concarneu, & St. Malo delivers. Great new ports for us which sold us on the cruise. Except for one ship excursion we went on our own as independent travelers and it was relatively easy. We used public busses, trains, and taxis and visited the same places as the ships tours for a fraction of the price and additional freedom it gave us. It is the first cruise we have been on that we did not rent a car. Check-in was a breeze with no lines as we arrived at 12:00 and walked right on. The fact that there was no ships photographer was a real plus. The Belissimo string quartet playing in the early evening were the cruise highlight. These Ukranian girls put on a serious musical show that is all music and no patter. They played in the area in the upper hall from 6:45 to 9: 15 with 15 minute breaks after a each 45 minute set. They also played during tea from 4:00 to 4:45 each day. Their performances at night were much better than at Tea everyday where the audience was not very appreciative. The final night I asked them to do what I thought were there best tunes for the big finish—Chatanoogga Choo Choo and the William Tell Overture with snippets of other popular songs woven into it. It resulted in a standing ovation from the 25 of us who enjoyed their music and attended their nightly concerts. The staff tries to please but does not always succeed. Their heart is there but they need better training. The ships singer Caileigh was a real delight in organizing games, especially the shuffleboard. The other singers did a generally good job as well organizing the games & activities. The usual acts of comedienne-magicians, guitarist, & acrobat-comedian did a decent job. Nothing memorable, but certainly competent. I popped a crown at breakfast at the Portland-Weymouth stop and the concierge was very helpful in getting the local tourist representative to set up a dentist appointment. Appointment went well and the 50 € price was reasonable. We used local busses to find the dentist who was located in the suburbs. We ate lunch in the dining room and it was a pleasant experience, much more so than dinner. The best dish I had on the cruise was a veal stew with pearl onions & mushrooms and a fine white cream sauce. Also had a terrific desert of crispy dough around a banana with chocolate sauce (not too sweet) and vanilla ice cream. The clam chowder in the Polo Grill was the best dish in that signature restaurant and the potato soup in Toscano was equally outstanding. The flank steak Korean style at lunch was had excellent flavor and was supposed to be medium rare but like almost all the red meat was overcooked. Breakfast in the Terrace Café was usually good, especially the omleatte station and the fresh fruit was varied (blackberries, papaya, figs, etc.) and top quality. Be sure to order your coffee Café American which is great quality and not let them serve you the inferior coffee from the thermos. You can also get Café American from the machine on the starboard side of the Terrace Café. After not having much success in the dining rooms we found some dishes in the Terrace Grill which were good as we ate dinner there five times. Lobster, especially the shrimp, and the pasta with a bolagnese sauce were all cooked to order and became the mainstays of my dinners. The last night the turkey was excellent, especially the dark meat. Caesar salads were good with plenty of shaved parmesan and anchovies. My wife enjoyed these as well without the anchovies. The chocolate ice cream was especially creamy and not overly sweet, the vanilla had less creaminess and taste. The best single desert was only served once and it was the black current tart at the buffet. A nice tart taste. I tried to get them to repeat it but their menu is set in advance by corporate with no deviation allowed. This seemed needlessly bueracratic. The stocked room refrigerator with complementary soft drinks and sparkling water is a real plus. No obnoxious mini-bar drinks for sale, clogging the refrigerator. The cruise director did a good job with the team trivia that was well attended. Between the shuffle board and the trivia we won enough Big O points (60) for a tote bag and a blanket—nice mementos. Service was generally good but of course nothing like the service we used to get before the automatic typing went into effect. We would cruise Oceania again if they came up with another brilliant itinerary but still rate it overall below Azamara. The Bad Oceana is in competition with Azamara for the moderately upscale small ship market and we found its product inferior to its competitor. It is hard to put your finger on but there are to many misses on the Insignia to give it a high rating. It has a loyal fan base and most of our fellow passengers had taken numerous trips on Oceana. We love to eat and are not that particular but found the dishes missing more than they hit. The biggest disappointment was the Polo Grill, the signature restaurant. Lobster was mediocre, Colorado lamb chops were overcooked and tasteless. Fresh caught bream had little flavor and only my wife’s rib-eye could be called good. In the main dining room the dishes that I usually love that were not done well were the duck, way overcooked at dried out, guinea fowl, all stuffing and no meat, and various steaks that my wife tried that were ordered medium and came back an over-cooked grey. Most of the deserts were cloyingly sweet in the dining room at dinner. Service was efficient one night and then exceedingly slow the next. After three tries we gave up on the dining room and ate in either the specialty café’s or the Terrace buffet. The thermos coffee is bad in all restaurants. Each has a machine that serves Café Americano, which is delicious. It is on the starboard side in the Terrace and you can make your own or have one of the servers get it. Be sure to specify Cafe Americano from the machine. We did not eat breakfast in the dining room until the last morning but heard stories of people waiting 25 minutes for their corn flakes. It was delightful the last morning because no one was there. Other than the omelette station (see the good) the food in the buffet was tepid as the warmers they set on did not keep it hot or even warm. Also, you could not dish it out yourself and they got testy if you tried. They would invariably choose uncrisp bacon, instead of the crisp one and you wanted would be stuck with it on your plate. If you asked for three pieces of ham you would end up with 1, 2, 4, or 5 but never three. The whole procedure of not allowing you to pick your own food items needs to be revised. Sometimes no one would be at the station and you would wait. To get them to show up all you had to do was try to serve yourself and they would immediately appear. The men’s toilette next to the Terrace Café—a prime location was usually out of order. I let them know a number of times but the suction was not adequate for the task. The fixes they tried were mere band-aides. We drink sparkling (mineral) water with ice & lemon. We had trouble getting the ice. They are not accustomed to serving it and there were no ice machines on the ship that we could find. We finally taught some of the waiters to bring us ice in a glass and we spooned it out. This worked. One of the great things on most ships is the outdoor grill. Most have hamburgers, Polish, Brats, & Italian sausages and some have pizza. On the Insignia it is a formal dining experience with lots of silverware, linen napkins, and other “frou frou” that do not fit with the grill: moreover, the bill of faire is basically hamburgers and hot dogs that are formally served to you. It is an awkward experience especially if you have just come from the adjacent pool. You cannot get your own ice tea or ice water or soft drink. They have to bring it to you and there is the issue of ice. This unnecessary formalness put us off so we did not eat at the grill except for one time. Oceania ship’s tours prices are legendary in the industry for being the highest priced. On the last day we broke down and took one as we had some ship’s credit to use up. See “the ugly” for further details about our one ship’s excursion. The ships singers seem to favor tunes from musicals that were written after 1963 (except for West Side Story) and I prefer the older musicals—Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, etc. I think the ships passengers would have preferred some of the “old tunes” instead of modern musicals like “The Wiz.” The Ugly There is not too much that was really ugly. Not allowing independent travelers to board the tenders and making us wait for the ship’s tours to board is a problem. The use of restricted tender tickets is unnecessary and slows up and clogs the boarding process. The cruise director did try to rectify this problem by allowing a few early independents to board the tenders in front of cruise tours after we staged a mini-revolt. His underlings never got the message and still insisted ship’s tours first, even if they were not ready to depart, and independent’s were. This discrimination against independents needs to be addressed by the cruise industry. The Country-Club casual dress code is more restrictive on the Insignia that other vessels who follow the same policy. Insignia requires shoes in the evening that are not sandals or athletic shoes. This requires you to pack and bring a third pair of shoes. Since I only wear Birkenstock sandalsor Tennis Shoes that third pair of shoes was very uncomfortable and unnecessary. Azamara and other similar “country club casual” lines do not require that third set of shoes. The notorious price of ship’s tours which are probably the highest in the industry is truly ugly. We only took one—to use up some shipboard credit—and it was $175 each to go to Mt. St. Michel. We could of ridden a a pebic bus and taken a taxi for about $50 for both of us and had a much freer and more flexible experience and not had to listen to the highly accented English of the tour guide which almost no one could understand. That was $375 down the drain. Some people went on these overpriced, underperformed, tours everyday. The so-called “day in Paris” was a real rip off as it consisted of one bathroom stop in Paris for 30 minutes and then returning to the ship by 4:00 when the ship did not sail until 9:00. What a waste. The insignias definition of a day is 2 hours. The servers were given too many tables in the dining room for dinner which caused interminable delays. There seemed to be plenty of help in the Terrace and some of them could have been shifted to the dining room. Very poor organization. The So-So In a number of ways the Oceania Insignia is just a “so-so” cruise ship. The food is uneven in the signature restaurants, dining room, and buffet. Much of the time the food was under-seasoned, red meat was usually cooked well-done even when you asked fot it medium rare. There were exceptions that are listed under the good. On the service the staff was pleasant and tried hard but were poorly trained and just did not know how to do things right. Sometimes they buzzed around you picking up things that you were still eating. Other times they were nowhere to be found. Their attitude was always good even when the service was not. We ate dinner in the Polo Grill twice, Toscano twice, the dining room three times, and the Terrace Grill (buffet) five times. Some good dishes, some bad, many were mediocre and overall it was just a “so so” experience. If this review sounds too negative then I am leaving the wrong impression. I tend to dwell on things that are a problem more than things that are good because I want them to improve their product. If you only rave about how great everything is you are not being a “cruise critic,” you are being a “homer.” Would I cruise with them again? Only if they came up with another great and unique itinerary and I was assured independent travelers were not discriminated against at tender anchorages.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
After many cruises with Oceania, this cruise was a large disappointment. To summarize: This cruise being 20 days with 8 days at sea plus another day with port arrival at 4 pm, we were assured by Oceania there would be a bridge director on ... Read More
After many cruises with Oceania, this cruise was a large disappointment. To summarize: This cruise being 20 days with 8 days at sea plus another day with port arrival at 4 pm, we were assured by Oceania there would be a bridge director on board, with instruction and duplicate play. It turned out they did not deliver on a firm promise. There were 30 to 40 irate bridge players on the ship the first day at sea. The food was generally good but not nearly up to what we experienced on Oceania before. Wait staff was inexperienced and untrained to the point of being comical at times. The cruise director was either fired or quit shortly after sailing off, so about half the cruise there was no cruise director. The lectures were not at all related to the itinerary. Shore excursion were terribly overpriced. After over 20 odd cruises, I have never been on a cruise where there were so many disgruntled passengers.   Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
This was our second cruise on Nautica and 8th cruise on Oceania so we were expecting a certain level of service and quality. Many cases these were met but there were several, cases where they were not. Obviously -- lots new staff on ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Nautica and 8th cruise on Oceania so we were expecting a certain level of service and quality. Many cases these were met but there were several, cases where they were not. Obviously -- lots new staff on board, including the GM, CD and many of the officers and staff. Putting Insignia back in service with the company going from 3 ships to 5 ships and a doubling of the capacity has put a strain on staff and management. Embarkation: Was smooth an efficient. At 1pm, we were on the ship and in our cabin in 15 minutes from reaching the port. Safety Drill: Muster stations are in the GDR and Lounge. The first drill (we had two) was total CHAOS. After the drill we complained and had a one on one with the ships safety officer. The 2nd one was better organized. Stateroom: We had a PH2 category and have had this several times. The cabin is rather small for a PH but was adequate. The new decor was definitely an improvement (lighter colors). Of course the bed and linens on Oceania are the best of any cruise line. Food: We ate at all of the venues. The GDR was good and service was acceptable. Toscana was also good. However POLO was the worse. All of the steaks we had were horrible. Tasteless lumps of meat. We complained several times and there was no improvement. The Terrace was actually the best we had on on many cruises. The addition of the Grill is a plus. We did have an issue at the beginning -- no Lamp Chops, but Head Chef Maarten quickly resolved that. The coffee in the Terrace was just plain horrible. The espresso/cappuccino machine was constantly broken. Eventually about 2/3 into the cruise they put a Barista machine and were making the espresso's manually for those that wanted them. Service: Service was spotty in the GDR. However otherwise service throughout the ship was excellent. Our housekeeper was friendly and efficient. Our Butler Janos was the best we have had! CD: As some others posted O is having issues with their CD's. Many have left and the new hires like "Bob" did not work out and was fired in mid cruise. So we were left without a CD until the end when Nolan Dean came aboard in Iceland. Nolan was first class.and we liked his English sense of humor. Tours: We only took one "O" tour as we like our private tours. The one we did take the "Titanic Trail" was poorly organized and overpriced. We had a tour scheduled at the pump house in Belfast shipyard and the guide was 45 minutes late. Baristas: The new coffee bar in former Grand Bar area was definitely a hit. The Baristas generally knew in mid cruise what we were going to order. Disembarkation: We had an early departure from Gatwick so need to get off the ship by 9AM. We did at the head of the queue to leave and was delayed until all of the luggage was unloaded. Sort of defeats the idea or need to do a n early departure with towing our own luggage. We made our flight with time to spare. Overall gave the cruise 4* --if Polo was better it would have gotten *5. Oceania needs to fix these specialty restaurant issues (We were not the only ones to complain). Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
(I´m Swedish. More of a 2*-man, than 5*) Cruising ranks low, when I plan holidays. Nevertheless I now and then cruise. Hithertho always with different lines (RCCL,HAL, Costa, NCL). Oceania was a step up. In many aspects. From outside ... Read More
(I´m Swedish. More of a 2*-man, than 5*) Cruising ranks low, when I plan holidays. Nevertheless I now and then cruise. Hithertho always with different lines (RCCL,HAL, Costa, NCL). Oceania was a step up. In many aspects. From outside Nautica looks rather plain. Inside impressing. Beautiful public areas, cabins, and dining rooms. I was very surprised that on this little ship had more space for myself outside my cabin, than on any of the three to five times larger ships I have been on. You could always find place to sit wherever you wanted. Now bit for bit: 1. Standard balcony cabin. Very, very attractive. I loved it. Really not large, but enough for us. Especially the bathroom gave limited space. But I prefer that than an even smaller cabin. The beds 110%. From hell to heaven compared to NCL, with their sweaty pillows. Free non-alcoholic in the fridge. The TV was an example of the opposite to HD. But that I count out. A tip: Try to get a cabin where you move forward sitting in the sofa. Not for example our 6025. 2. Public areas gave astonishing space. Used to crowded rooms on other ships. Elegant everywhere. 3. Sundeck: Lots of extremly comfortable sunbeds. Always empty available. Pool very small. The 2 bubble-pools very popular. 4. Walking-track very short. But it was so wide, that you could even jogg, same time lots of walkers were there. Strange: All the much larger ships I cruised on, gave less opportunity for jogging. 5. Gym. Super. 6. Dining: The dishes always served hot. And tasty. Especially in Toscana. Our favorite. The only dissappointment was the steaks in Polo-grill. But perhaps americans like that kind of meat. Thick and absolutely non-tasting. Second to Toscana, we prefered the self-service Terrace-café. Nice to see what you put on your plate. Wines: The cheap ones were not cheap, neither good. The more expensive were ok, but far too expensive. And the offered packages were also very high-priced. Stay sober on Nautica. Or drink in yuor cabin. (Bottles allowed to bring aboard.) 7. Bars: drinks very expensive, and contained only ice and soft drinks. Perhaps a hint of alcoholic. I took one, and just laughed. 8. Evening-shows: Very high standard for such a small ship. And varied. 9. Day-lectures in the theatre: Don Campell talked around the history in ports to arrive. For me, and I believe for many others, this was the best hours on the cruise. I will never forget him. And his lectures. 10. Excursions. We took 5. That was exactly 5 too many. Guides, dull, duller, or even duller. We envy those smart people who went out on their own in every port. 11. Staff: On former cruises they have been very nice. Here they were fantactic. As I began, I´m not a cruiser. But if I cruise again, it will be on a ship of this size. Worth every extra buck you pay. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We are the sort of cruisers who bring our own water bottles, a 12 pack of water and flavored drink packets to avoid the $4.50+ bar charge most cruise lines impose on passengers for just a bottle of water. Oceania is a different ... Read More
We are the sort of cruisers who bring our own water bottles, a 12 pack of water and flavored drink packets to avoid the $4.50+ bar charge most cruise lines impose on passengers for just a bottle of water. Oceania is a different "animal". We were delighted to find that bottled water, smoothies, malts & shakes, espresso and latte were all part of the cruise price. The Ship was clean, well maintained and easy to navigate around. We really enjoyed the speciality dining and the food portions were perfect. Our inside cabin was adequate in size, beds comfortable and the shower just a little too small for my Texas size husband. Cabin service was excellent. We never felt the ship move. All staff were very well trained and friendly. We met the most interesting people who were well traveled, mostly retired and primarily Canadian or American. Many of them had been on the ship on the New York to Dover cruise, were doing the Dover to Copenhagen, and then continuing on into the Baltic Sea. This not a ship for families with teens or younger as they have no scheduled activities. We will definitely cruise with Oceania again, but will opt for a larger cabin. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
Oceania Marina, Cultural Connoisseur, September 27, 2013 – A Review About Us: My husband and I, both in our very early 50’s, booked this cruise aboard the Marina to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We have both cruised ... Read More
Oceania Marina, Cultural Connoisseur, September 27, 2013 – A Review About Us: My husband and I, both in our very early 50’s, booked this cruise aboard the Marina to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We have both cruised extensively on many different lines in the past, but this was our first “O” experience. We have usually cruised with our daughters and extended family. This was the first time in a very long time that we cruised with just each other. We initially had some reservations as to how we would fit in with the passenger demographics on the ship. I can now honestly report that, although we were probably among the youngest 10% or 15% of the passengers on the cruise, we never felt out of place and we met the most wonderful people onboard ... some of the most interesting people that we’ve had the pleasure of meeting in a long time. There was always a good conversation to be had, and we left the ship with many new friends who we hope to be able to travel with again in the future. We participated in the Roll Call for our cruise here on Cruise Critic (again, something we had never done before), and arranged, and/or took part in, private excursions in every port. We had incredible private guides in every port. It would be very hard to pick a favorite. I’ll go into more detail below. I recommend getting involved in your Roll Call thread. I can’t even begin to explain how much better of an experience it is to take part in small, private tours of 6-8 people, as opposed to the big bus tours that the cruise line sells. Not to mention that the private tours end up being less money. Pre-Cruise: We booked our air through Oceania, taking advantage of their air-included offer. We also paid the $150 per person deviation charge, in order to fly in a day early and fly home two days after disembarkation. We got to choose the exact flights we wanted, with no issues whatsoever. We arrived at Gatwick on Thursday, September 26 and took the train to Winchester, where we spent a leisurely day getting over the jet lag. We stayed at a great bed & breakfast, the Old Vine, and had a private transfer on Friday morning for our 30-minute ride to Southampton. Weather: We were blessed with beautiful weather throughout our vacation, with very little rain along the way. It ended up being warmer than we had anticipated, so most of our sweaters and such ended up being unused. The Ship: The 2 year-old Marina is impeccable. It is the most elegant and one of the most beautiful ships I have ever seen. And, I’ve seen A LOT of cruise ships. Day and night, you would find the crew hard at work, polishing and scrubbing, to make sure that Marina was always at her best. The ship’s crew is happy and friendly. They are genuinely happy to be there to help you have the most amazing cruise experience possible. Their friendly conversation never seems forced or fake. They seem to truly care about each passenger and remember you from day to day and from venue to venue. On our last morning aboard, when we were having breakfast at The Terrace, many of the servers who we had had the pleasure of meeting during the course of the cruise stopped by our table to wish us safe travels home and to ask how our cruise had gone. I was amazed that they remembered and touched by the gesture. Our Stateroom: This was our cruise to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and so we splurged on a Penthouse Suite. It’s a perfect stateroom and was extremely comfortable for us. The closet is a walk-in and provides ample storage. There are also plenty of drawers in the dressers in the stateroom. The bathroom is beautiful, although the shower could stand to be just a tad larger. We loved the Bulgari amenities. The bed!!! It’s the most comfortable bed we’ve ever slept in. Period. End of Story. All the linens in the bedroom and bathroom are awesome. Our stateroom attendants did a fabulous job of keeping our room very clean. There was never an occasion when we had to call them back in for something that was overlooked or forgotten. With the Penthouse comes a butler. I can’t say enough good things about Churchill, our butler. Friendly and full of information, he was able to give us the inside scoop on all the best dishes to sample at the restaurants. He also graciously and with a smile served us a full, hot breakfast in our stateroom on almost every morning of the cruise. And we had some pretty early starts because of all of our private tours. One night, we had dinner brought in to the stateroom from Toscana. He served it course by course. Wonderful! There are so many things that he did to make our cruise better. There’s no way to go into it all here. Suffice it to say that he spoiled us. And we loved it! Dining: The food quality and the dining experience onboard Marina are so far and above anything we’ve experienced on any other ship! A comparison to previous experiences is almost impossible. The only thing that is in the same league is our dinner at Remy aboard the Disney Fantasy. And that’s a $75 per person surcharge, without wine. Each and every venue aboard the Marina was outstanding, from Waves to The Terrace to the Grand Dining Room to the specialty restaurants. We also had the pleasure of dining one night at La Reserve. We had the Exploration Menu, which was wonderful! It’s the only surcharge restaurant aboard (not counting Privee, which is more of a dining room where food is brought in from other restaurants) and was well worth the additional fee. Course after course, each paired perfectly with wine. It was a three and a half hour experience that I would love to repeat again! Entertainment: We did not attend any of the shows on Marina. Our very enjoyable entertainment consisted of the wonderful dinner conversation we had with new friends in the varied restaurants onboard. Ports: This cruise was very port intensive and visited places that, for the most part, neither of us had been to before. Bruges: We joined the private taxi transfer arranged by another person on our Roll Call. I believe the company was Taxi Snel. We were picked up at the gate to the port at 9 AM and returned to the ship at 5 PM. Once in Bruges, we followed a walking tour that was posted online by Brentjes. It was a great tour, very detailed, with lots of information of what you are seeing and easy to follow. The tour as printed begins at the train station. We started it at Markt Square and followed it around backward. It was pretty much the exact tour being followed by the ship’s expensive walking tour of the city. Great day in a beautiful city. I’d love to return someday. Le Havre: I arranged for a private tour for 8 through Overlord Tours. Our guide was Oliver, and he was fantastic!!! We went to Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery, Point du Hoc, Saint Mere Eglise, Utah Beach, Angoville au Plain and to some secluded places that we would have never been able to find, or enter, had we ventured out on our own. Oliver made the landing beaches come alive for us. I can’t recommend Overlord or Oliver enough!! St. Malo: We joined a private tour arranged by another person on our Roll Call. The tour was with Westcapades and our tour guide was Marc. We went to Mont St. Michel, Dinan and had a very brief visit to St. Malo. There were six of us on the tour. Marc was very good. Mont St. Michel is fascinating! It’s a place that everyone should visit at least once. Dinan was beautiful! I enjoyed our time there and the local pastry, Kouign Amann, that we got to sample. I would definitely recommend Marc for a great day out of St. Malo. L’Orient: I had arranged a private tour with Marie-Laure at Brittany Visits. The plan was for us to visit Quimper, Pont Aven and Concarneau. The night before we arrived in L’Orient, I received a message from the Purser that Marie-Laure’s husband had been hospitalized and that she would not be coming the next day. I was sorry to hear that her husband was ill, and I truly hope that he has recovered. The timing of the cancellation really did not work well for us to be able to arrange anything else. We decided to take the free shuttle into town and explore. L’Orient is pretty much a regular mid-sized modern French city with not a whole lot to see and do. There is a U-Boat yard that was used by the Germans during WWII. After a little while in town, my husband and I chose to go back to the ship for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. Le Verdon: I arranged a private tour with Maryse at Bordeaux Excursions. She is fanastic!!! We visited 3 Chateaux (Gruaud-LaRose, Pichon-Longueville, and Lynch-Bages) with a brief stop at Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and a beautiful lunch at Chateau Pomys. The harvest was just getting underway in Le Medoc. It was a spectacular day, planned to perfection. I recommend Maryse wholeheartedly. I hope to visit the Bordeaux region again and will definitely book with Maryse to show me the other areas of the region. Bilbao: We took the free shuttle that Oceania provided into town. We visited the outside of the Guggenheim, and its gift shop and then walked along the riverfront to the “Casco Viejo”, or old town. It was very picturesque and it was nice to just wander the streets here. We enjoyed a very inexpensive lunch of pintxos (what tapas are called here) and the local wine, Txacoli. We took a taxi back to the ship from the old town. La Coruna: We booked a private tour to Santiago de Compostela and La Coruna for 6 through Luca Renzini of Best Private Tours. Our guide was Anton. He was excellent! Anton showed us all the sights in Santiago de Compostela. The star of the show, of course, is the cathedral. Unfortunately, we did not get to see the Butafumeiro swing in the church. We had a lovely lunch in the old town here. We then went on to La Coruna, which was a very nice place, too. The weather had cleared up and we had magnificent views from Hercules’ Tower. I was a bit nervous about our arrangements in this port, since there were no posted reviews of Best Private Tours or Luca. I would recommend booking with him in the future. He is able to arrange tours out of most European cruise ports. Had I had a few more hours of notice, I would have contacted him about booking something after our Lorient guide cancelled on us. Oporto: We joined a tour booked by one of the others in our Roll Call through Tours by Locals to the Douro Valley. Our guide was Orquidea. She was very good and very nice. This tour is beautiful, with jaw dropping sights at every turn. There is a lot of driving involved in getting down to the valley floor from Oporto. It took us over three hours to reach Pinhao. We had beautiful, clear weather. Had it been raining, it would have been a really scary ride. There are many, many curving narrow roads with sharp, hairpin turns. That being said, I loved this day! We had a spectacular lunch at Quinta do Portal. The setting for this lunch was beautiful! The food delicious, and the company of our guide and the others in our tour was lovely. We then went to the winery for a port tasting. Who knew that port wine came in three colors! They were all delicious, too! As long as you’re aware of all the driving, this is a very worthwhile tour. Lisbon: I arranged for a private tour with Alex at Top Ten Tours. Alex is a wonderful guide! Another best guide for this trip! We went to Sintra, Caiscais, and Lisbon. The van he used is brand new and has wi-fi! This was yet another day that we had spectacular weather! The Pena Palace above Sintra is a really beautiful place! Our pictures there are incredible. I think if I had it to do again, I would skip Caiscais and spend more time in Lisbon. I do want to go back to Lisbon again. If you have a chance to book a day with Alex, do it! He is really wonderful! Cadiz: We took the train from Cadiz to Seville with two others from our Roll Call. The train station is located right across the street and around the corner from the port. It couldn’t have been more simple. The people we travelled with arranged for a walking tour of Seville with Marta Casals. She was very good! We were with her for three hours and we visited the Plaza de Espana, the Cathedral, the Alcazar, and the Barrio Santa Cruz, among other places. Marta made the very most of our short time with her. She is another of our “very best” guides for this trip. Post-Cruise: Sadly, our time aboard Marina had to come to an end. We spent two nights in Barcelona, at the Catalonia Catedral Hotel in the Gothic Quarter that was located right across the square from the old Cathedral. We had been to Barcelona before, and this was our favorite part of the city. Our first day was spent wandering the curvy streets of the Gothic Quarter. On our second day, we booked a full day trip to Montserrat with Spanish Trails. They are awesome! Our guide, Dan, was yet another amazing guide. Montserrat is unbelievably beautiful! We had an amazing lunch at a restaurant in the national park at the foot of Montserrat. We then visited a vineyard for wine tasting. We ended our day at the overlook at Montjuic, with Barcelona spread out at our feet. Our day included all expenses. I recommend Spanish Trails very highly. I will be booking some of their other day trips when we return to Barcelona. Overall Impressions: The Marina is an exceptional ship and this itinerary was fantastic. We enjoyed every second of our vacation and have already booked our next trip aboard Marina.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
Thursday 15 August 2013 We had been given an official boarding time of 1pm but thought it wouldn't hurt to arrive early and we didn't mind waiting in the terminal if necessary. When we arrived at the terminal, very few other ... Read More
Thursday 15 August 2013 We had been given an official boarding time of 1pm but thought it wouldn't hurt to arrive early and we didn't mind waiting in the terminal if necessary. When we arrived at the terminal, very few other people were arriving and we walked straight in to check-in. Nice touches included the blue carpet at the entrance with Nautica and Oceania Cruises on and a table with complimentary orange juice and iced water. After check-in - passports were kept - and the usual credit card swipe, we were given our cruise cards (World Cards in Oceania speak) and a letter to say boarding would begin at 1pm and cabins would be ready at 3pm. As we went through security and I headed for the embarkation lounge, we were called and invited to board the ship. The ship's card machine was set up on the Promenade deck and crew were stationed at various points to direct us straight to the Terrace Restaurant (buffet). As we crossed the main pool deck I was impressed by rows of sun loungers, steamer chairs and twin steamer chairs, all with thick cushions and white towelling covers. We found a table on the open deck at the stern of the Terrace Cafe and then went to choose food. In the buffet all food is served to you at all times. Plates were also given to you from behind the counters and cutlery was on the tables, which were laid properly as at dinner. I chose a delicious vegetable lasagne followed by a strawberry concoction. I don't know what it was called but was heavenly - my first introduction to the renowned Oceania food. It was also very nice to be able to order any soft drink or sparkling water - it is all included on Nautica. My plates were carried to the table by a waiter. After lunch we wandered down to Reception to pick up the daily programme and then found a sunbed each and lazed until 2.30 when an announcement told us the cabins were ready. We had a standard twin outside stateroom on Deck 3 with a porthole. Unfortunately the bed was made up as a double though! A quick call to reception soon got it sorted with no fuss or bother. The mattresses are pocket sprung, and covered two inches of memory foam. The bedding is 1,000-thread-count Egyptian cotton linen and a down comforter. They were certainly the most comfortable I have had on a cruise ship. Cabin amenities include bath robes, slippers, soft drinks and small bottles of water in the fridge, two large bottles of water on a tray with glasses and bottle opener, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, hand soap, bath soap (for the shower), shower cap, cotton wool, cotton buds, umbrella, shoe horn, shoe shine cloth, two hairdryers - one fixed in the bathroom and a hand held one, plug-in nightlight, TV and DVD player (DVD's available free from reception, catalogue in cabin). Best of all, the bedside lights had an ordinary lamp and an additional reading light on a flexible stalk, which could be switched independently so as not to disturb your cabin mate. Storage is not wonderful - one large double wardrobe, and one half robe with half hanging and four drawers. One side of the dressing table/desk is a cupboard with four more small drawers and the other side a cupboard with one shelf. Under the flatscreen TV is a corner cupboard with shelf and safe. We had a sofa, very comfy padded headboard and huge mirrors. Attention to detail was such that as you pushed the toilet lid down, it closed itself quietly - like soft-closing kitchen drawers! Having unpacked, we set off to explore the ship. As another R ship like P&O's Adonia, we were familiar with the layout and much seemed to be identical even down to the tartan carpet in Horizons (Crows Nest on Adonia). However, there was a huge casino (for the size of ship) and the buffet is very different indeed - more of that later. Muster drill was at 5.15. We assembled in Muster Station A, were checked off a list at the door and were assigned Lifeboat No.1. We were asked to wear our lifejackets and after the usual announcements were led, in boat groups, to our lifeboat so we knew exactly where we had to be in the event of an emergency. British are in the minority at around 10% but this just made a refreshing change and everyone was friendly. By then it was 7pm and time to go change for dinner (Nautica has no formal nights, but I wanted to freshen up). We headed for the Grand Dining Room and joined the short queue. When we got to the Maitre D' he asked if we would like to go to the Polo Grill as there was spare capacity there while we would have to wait for the MDR. All other dining venues are free/included but you are normally only allowed to book once per cruise so we had no problem heading up to Deck 10. I chose beetroot and Goats cheese starter, Caesar Salad, Jumbo Shrimp Scampi and New York Cheesecake with caramelised top! Dessert was accompanied by home-made jellies and coffee. Dinner ended about 10.30 and the ship died - we thought many were probably jet-lagged but this was normal throughout the cruise. As it was so port-heavy, most people rose early. Often we were in port until 8pm so it was natural we were all tired by 10.30. Friday 16 August - At sea This was one of our two sea days. We had breakfast in the Terrace Cafe - the plates carried to my seat by waiters who also served coffee and fresh orange juice (with bits). The range of fresh fruit alone was amazing - every day three different type of melon, papaya, mango, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries. It was lovely and warm outside in the sun, overlooking the wake. I went to the Destination desk to book a tour (the only official ship's tour I took) and pick up quiz sheets. After a browse around the library (open 24/7 - just take what you want within reason as there are other guests to consider, and return before end of cruise) I sat on deck in sun and did a puzzle. We had lunch on deck at Waves Grill - burgers, paninis, sandwiches and wonderful icecreams, smoothies and milkshakes. After lunch I was dozing in the cabin but was woken by an announcement from the captain. He said some of us may have noticed our change of course due west as we needed a helicopter evacuation for crew member with head injury. We stood and the watched the whole operation from the pool deck where we were allowed to stand. After lowering a paramedic etc the RAF Sea King flew alongside the ship and the pilot and winchman waved to us all. He circled a few times and then came back in to collect everything and everyone. We then had our first Oceania afternoon tea in Horizons - this was better than Cunard IMO - string quartet, sandwiches brought round on tray, three-tier cake trolley and a stunning all-round view to boot. Hot water arrived in a teapot, with another waiter holding a wooden box containing a huge selection of different teas from which to choose! By then it was time to go to cabin to get ready for the captain's welcome party. This was the only time the deck officers mixed with passengers. Drinks were free-flowing. We had dinner in the GDR and I still feel this was the best meal of my life so far - starter of caviar on blinis, the miso-glazed sea bass and a cappuccino dessert served in a chocolate cup. Went to see the Show before bed. There were five entertainment staff on board. The Cruise Director, Nolan Dean, was from the UK and probably the best CD I have had- always around the ship chatting etc. As on CMV, it was the CD who made all passenger announcements about going ashore etc. All five of the team not only ran sports tournaments, quizzes, needlepoint classes etc, but were also the show troupe, both singing and dancing in the shows. Nolan also did two one-man comedy and singing shows. Additionally we had Rick Thomas -an Illusionist. The cruise was a Music Festival at Sea to celebrate Oceania's 10 year anniversary and on board were the Fjord Cadenza Ensemble - a wonderful classical group. There was also the on-board show band, a cocktail pianist in Martinis and a string quartet who played at teatime and in the Atrium at cocktails. Saturday 16 August - Edinburgh I woke very early and got dressed to go up on deck to see my first ever glimpse of the Forth Bridge as we sailed under it into Rosyth. After breakfast (outside on the terrace) we prepared for a day in Edinburgh. The Tattoo was still on, as was the Fringe Festival. There was a free shuttle bus to Inverkeithing Station so we waited on the dockside and chatted with others in order to get the first bus and ashore quickly. At the station, we bought a £5.50 return ticket from the machine and crossed over the line to the far platform almost as soon as the train arrived. It took about 25 minutes into Waverley Station. Unfortunately it was drizzly so we found a taxi to take us up to the Castle where we started our day. The queue was not too bad so after buying our tickets we headed up to the Castle. The road slowly got windier and quite rough as we climbed up into the Castle Keep and joined the short queue to see the Scottish Crown Jewels. There was lots to see and worth the entrance money overall, but the jewels were probably not worth it if it meant a long wait. After working our way down again, we walked down the Royal Mile, filled with souvenir shops, mostly selling kilts, whisky and items with Scottie dogs on. We had a sandwich and a drink in the Festival Hub Cafe. Lots of Fringe entertainment happening on Market Street, and Cannon Gate etc. Went into St Giles Cathedral where a lovely concert was in progress - piano and saxophone. We got back to Waverley Station about 2.15 and then took ages to find out which platform we were supposed to be on. First told 11 (wrong), then 17 (wrong), then finally 2 so managed the 2.27 train to Aberdeen via Inverkeithing. We had a short wait for the shuttle bus but the sun was now out and quite hot! On our return to the ship I quickly changed before we went up for the wonderful afternoon tea again (I cannot make a habit of this - too much food!). Sailaway was very delayed presumably by the fierce gusting wind. A tug arrived and attached first at the bow, then moved to the stern. It took ages to slowly move the stern out and edge away from the berth before retracing our route under the two bridges. As Nautica sailed under each bridge the captain sounded the horn three times. Then it was time to go back down for a shower and to change for dinner. Sunday 17th August - Invergordon, We were not arriving until 12 noon so had a leisurely breakfast and then went to the Stitch & Chat. Oceania provide free needlepoint kits to make small items such as a spectacle case or bag. If you complete one during the cruise you can choose another. By 10.30 we thought it time to grab a bite to eat as Nigel, our private tour guide ( www.shorexcursions.co.uk) wanted us to be off the ship as soon as possible. Four of us were first off and we waited a short time for two more and then set off in Nigel's silver VW people-carrier towards Dunrobin Castle. Once there (amid a vintage car rally), Nigel spoke with Alistair, Lord Strathnaver, who directed us round the back into the private grounds. We walked through a tiny gate into the area where falcons and hawks were kept, guarded at the entrance by a beautiful, huge owl sitting on a flower pot! we wandered through the stunning grounds for around 40 mins before meeting everyone back at the falconry area. Alan, the falconer, then gave a public demonstration using three birds. An hour later we went up to the main castle and toured through some of its many rooms. At 3.45 we set off back towards the ship, driving along Loch Fleet in the hope of seeing seals (all on the opposite bank). We did see an osprey nest, swans, cormorants etc and then stopped at Millionaire's Viewpoint. Back in Invergordon we were driven past a number of murals and then back to Nautica, via a gift shop of course. Can thoroughly recommend the tour however, which was tailored to our time available. We were on board just in time to watch a show of Scottish song and dance put on by locals in the Nautica Lounge. At 7.30 we also had a marching pipe band on the quayside to send us on our way towards Lerwick. By now it was 8pm so we decided to eat dinner in the Terrace Cafe. I have always said I would not eat dinner in the buffet restaurants but on Nautica is was more akin to a proper dining room, serving the same dishes in fact. Monday 19th August - Lerwick Got the 9am free shuttle from the container dock (Holmsgarth) into Lerwick. Just after breakfast there was a torrential rain shower so it was not looking good, but after that it cleared dramatically and the sun came out making a nice day in the end. It was interesting to watch the crew of the oilrig supply ship berthed behind us go up onto their helipad to take photos of Nautica! As we went into the Tourist Information Centre we saw an advert for a boat trip - this was a cruise ship special (2 hours instead of their normal 3), so we booked. There were just six of us, plus skipper Alan and his wife Robbie - a marine biologist, who live on the boat throughout the summer. We first sailed round the harbour looking at the buildings (and a female seal who popped her head to look at us!), then set off through the main channel. Saw terns, common and grey seals, an Arctic Skua, cormorants, shags, eider drakes, guillemots, ravens and lots of gannets fishing. Later the boat was anchored over a wreck and they sent down an ROV and set up a TV screen so we could see what was under the boat. Robbie explained things in detail. Finally after 2 fascinating hours, we were dropped off at the pier and set off walking. Back on board, we went to the Trivia Quiz and joined with another team - all Americans so we were warmly welcomed for our UK knowledge! We came joint second so I got my first 2 Big O points! These are built up throughout the cruise and exchanged on the last day for various gifts - bookmarks, hats, t-shorts etc! We went back down to the cabin to wash and change for the dinner we had booked in the Polo Grill. We were not late going to bed as clocks went forward an hour that night. Tuesday 20th August - Alesund We arrived early and I rushed up on deck to watch us berth. I don't think I've ever seen a ship docked so fast - we appeared to race up towards the berth and then dead slow, a sideways thrust and we were there. I have to say the berthing and departures were all very sleek, swift and timely throughout the cruise. We never saw a queue to get off the ship - it was all efficient and quick. Our plan was to take the HoHo Bus - 200 NK - to the Sunnmore Museum. We did the full round trip first - the views from the high mountain viewpoint at Aksla were fabulous - then went round again as far as the Museum. Here were lots of turf-roofed old Norwegian country houses of various periods, boat houses etc. in a lovely woodland setting with streams. We had coffee and apple cake and then went back to wait for the HoHo bus. As we went back up to Aksla again I saw that while we were gone, Adventure of the Seas had arrived! We got off in town and wandered the shops. Back on board, we got up to Horizons just in time for afternoon tea. At 8.05, during dinner, we felt the engines power up and saw Nautica edging out from the quayside and swinging 180 degrees to sail back down the fjord. Wednesday 21st August - Geiranger I set the alarm for 5.45 am to watch the sail into Geiranger but we were already well into the Fjord by then. I made it up on deck just in time to see us sail past the Seven Sisters Falls and about 20 mins later we were there. The tendering operation was like any other - as independents we had to get tender tickets and wait in the Nautica Lounge, but we were called to board almost immediately. I got the Sightseeing bus to Flydal, and the two famous view points, wandered around, bought souvenirs, and then tendered back to ship. I had a quick lunch at Waves Grill as I wanted to watch our sail back down the fjord to pick up the overland tour passengers at Hellesylt. I wondered why one tender remained afloat as we hauled up our anchor but it soon became clear. Captain Ressa was going to give every passenger an amazing view of the Seven Sisters and the Suitors falls. With the tender acting as a range-finder for the ship, the captain did a slow 360 turn in the fjord. In the middle of the turn, we paused to one side to allow Artania and the Hurtigruten steamer Nordlys, to sail past us then continued to turn another 180 degrees before sailing to Hellesylt to pick up our tour people. Unfortunately it was very wet but standing on deck staring up at the huge mountains, with the wonderful music of Grieg coming through the speakers on deck - total magic. Thursday 22nd August - at sea. Our second and last sea day and it was lovely to finally get a lie in. It was warm enough to take advantage of the sun deck. As it became chilly, I asked for and was brought a thick woollen blanket by the pool boy and tucked in on the soft sun beds. A deck stewardess brought a cappuccino to complete the pampered feeling. We had lunch in Terrace Cafe before changing and going up to play shuffleboard. Since only six of us were playing anyway I won another Big O point for coming third! It was a lazy afternoon. Went to the Trivia quiz at 4.30 and our team won, then got dressed for dinner early as we wanted to go to the final recital by the Fjord Cadenza Ensemble. It was wonderful listening to the music of Grieg while remembering our sail through the fjords yesterday. Tomorrow the Platters are joining Nautica. We were then at a bit of a loose end as we had booked Toscana but not until 8.30 so we sat in the Library and watched us sail between the Inner and Outer Hebrides, before joining our table of six for a fabulous Italian meal - huge selection of breads, an olive oil menu etc. By the time we completed our meal it was 11pm so bed. Friday 23rd August - Belfast. We had a leisurely morning since Nautica wasn't due to berth until noon. Had breakfast and then went to needlepoint and chat. By then we were well in sight of Belfast docks so went up on deck. We had a good sight of the new Titanic Museum and the Harland & Wolff Gantries as well as an old WWI battleship. The day before I had filled in the mid-cruise comment sheet and as we went back to the cabin this morning, a knock at the door revealed the Asst. Housekeeping Manager regarding my comment that the cabin needed hooks for wet coats! Impressive! We berthed about 20 mins early so were ready and off the ship to meet Paddy as we had booked one of his Black Cab Tours of Belfast and the Giants Causeway. We had a short chat about what we wanted to see (happy to skip the Bushmills Distillery in favour of Dunluce Castle) and then set off into Belfast City. Our driver explained that, as a Catholic, there were areas he could not go. I was quite shocked as to how divided the city still was. The Protestant areas were adorned with flags, bunting and even the kerbstones were painted red, white and blue! A huge wall still divided the city into two. I asked why it was so high and was told to stop missiles! We drove along the Crumlin and Shankhill Roads where huge political murals had been painted onto houses, commemorating events various events. In one area the back gardens of the houses were all encased in wire to protect the inhabitants - horrendous. At checkpoints in the wall were heavy gates, closed at dusk in a kind of curfew. There were even Protestant and Catholic taxis, which could not travel in each other's areas! If you want to travel from one side of Belfast to another you have to change cabs! I had no idea it was still so segregated in the city. After this depressing start, we set off into the Antrim countryside - very English looking - up to a viewpoint to see the Carrick a Rede rope bridge. Unfortunately the weather had turned drizzly but we still had great views. Then to a little beach to see what is the smallest church in Ireland -St Gobbans. It is licensed for weddings - as long as you don't want more than 5 people! Next to it is a small cottage with portholes and steamer chairs that were spares intended for Titanic and her sisters. Next we drove to my highlight - the Giant's Causeway. After an hour there we went to Dunluce Castle. We just managed a few pictures before the rain set in in earnest and we repaired to the tea shop opposite for warm home-made scones, cream, jam and raspberries with tea. By then it was time to return to the docks. We made it back at 7pm so after a quick wash and change - to Martini's for a drink and their delicious nibbles - crisps, nuts etc. we decided on The Terrace Cafe for a light dinner (after the tea!). Saturday 24th August - Dublin I am not sure now if I have described breakfast properly. Having chosen a table, waiters bring coffee, juices, water etc. They also often carry your plate for you. The choices are large - lots of fresh fruit, a range of hot food - sausages, pancakes, scrambled eggs etc., cereals with hot, cold, whole or skim milk. Smoked salmon, cheeses and pastries to die for. You can have any coffee you like - latte, cappuccino etc. As we were doing our own thing in Dublin we didn't get up too early. I was up first so went up on deck to see where we were and was surprised to see we were berthed at the mouth of the Liffey, right beside the o2 arena. The ship couldn't get any closer if they tried. This was my second time in Dublin this year, but as the first was very wet we had only done the DUKW tour then. We caught the free shuttle bus into Kildare Street and had a stroll past the gift shops etc, to the statue of Molly Malone and the Tourist Information Centre, through Temple Bar and over the Ha'penny Bridge before catching the Hoho bus in Connell Street doing one complete circuit before getting off at Trinity College to see inside the buildings. I decided the queues were too long to see the Book of Kells so we then had a homemade soup and a Guinness in a nearby pub before picking up the HoHo bus again to Dublin Castle. After a quick walk around we got the Yellow Route HoHo back to the centre, a look around again and then the shuttle back to Nautica. Back on the ship, three Guarda officers were watching everyone come back on board. Went to Trivia before changing for cocktails in Horizons - there were choices of three different cocktails of the day each night at $5 (plus 18% gratuity). Otherwise cocktails were priced from $10, other drinks from around $8 although there was a Happy Hour between 5 and 6pm - buy one, get one free. All were accompanied by a little stand holding three different types of nibbles, plus canapes. We headed down to the Grand Dining Room for dinner where we were taken to table for 8 by the window. Sunday 25th August - Cork Woke up early as this was the one day I was taking a tour. I was ready just in time to watch us sail past Cobh and over the river to Ringaskiddy where Nautica was to berth. This was because Balmoral was supposed to be berthing in Cobh but in the event she arrived just as we left and we passed in the channel - Nautica blowing her whistle but no reply from Balmoral - which looked rather down at heel and a bit rusty. After breakfast I went to the Nautica Lounge for 8.45 and exchanged my tour ticket to Kinsale for a tour bus pass No.4. Tours on Nautica are rather like tendering operations in that respect. We were soon called and filed down to deck 4 and out to the waiting coaches. It was not long before we were on our way with guide Mary and driver Pat. We drove through rolling countryside not unlike Britain to Fort Charles overlooking Kinsale Harbour, and from where you could see the Old Head of Kinsale where Lusitania sank. Then to Kinsale itself where we went into a hotel for scones and tea before having 2 free hours to explore. It is a pretty town of coloured houses and narrow lanes. It was Sunday but most were open as the town was hosting the International Disabled Sailors Championships. As I sat by the harbour a seal popped its head up to see what was available to eat. We took a different route back, alongside the Bandon River where we had a brief stop for photos. We got back to the ship at 1.30 and I dashed up to Waves for a veggie burger before Shuffleboard - three more Big O points for winning! Nautica was put through a hard swing to starboard to clear the pier and then it was back downriver past Cobh again. We sailed very close to the town and hoards of people lined the waterfront to watch and wave at us and a fair was in full swing in the small seafront park. In the distance by the lighthouse, Balmoral was just arriving and we passed very close to each other. It is the big finale tonight, entertainment wise so headed up for cocktails in before dinner. I chose caviar on potato, chicken consomme and lobster tail followed by pistachio tartlet topped with orange and grapefruit segments. We finished at 9pm and went to get seats in the Nautica Lounge to watch The Platters. Their show was followed by the whole crew filing into the lounge so they could all be thanked - from Captain to cabin steward, and on the way out of the lounge they all lined the corridors. Monday 26th August - Portland Our last day! Since we were not arriving until 10am at Portland we had a leisurely breakfast and were able to watch us dock. Once we were ready we set off in the free shuttle to Weymouth. It is many years since I was last here and the town was, to all intents and purposes, new to me. Back on board I had a quick lunch outdoors in the Terrace Grill before going up to play shuffleboard. The weather was beautiful so it was a sun lounger in the sun for the rest of the afternoon until it was time for the Trivia Quiz where our team - The Bruins (UCLA) came joint first - again. So, I ended up with 20 Big O points - enough to redeem for a T shirt with 5 over! Back in the cabin I finished packing and changed for dinner. We had a cocktail each in Martinis before going out onto the promenade deck to watch the Weymouth Brass Band and some soldiers fire a three gun salute for us. Tuesday 27th August - Southampton Around the middle of the cruise we had been asked to complete a disembarkation form with onward travel arrangements and asking what time we wished to disembark - any time between 7am and 9am. We chose 8.30 then, but as independents it turned out we could disembark whenever we wished. The whole operation was very civilised and easy. Those travelling on airport transfers were directed to specific lounges so there was no-one hanging around the gangway as on most ships. After a nice breakfast out on the stern deck we collected our hand luggage and just disembarked. All in all, an interesting and enjoyable cruise - although I can't say relaxing! I am not a fan really of these very port-intensive cruises but Americans don't like sea days! The service and food, with a few exceptions, was excellent. Waves Grill became very busy especially if a tour had just returned and a burger could take 25 mins to come. For some odd reason, both we both felt we had just had a really long cruise, even though it was only 12 nights. Usually the time flies past when you are having fun, and we did have fun. My friend's theory is that, in some ports we arrived between 10am - noon so the morning was like a sea day, and then we had our port day from noon until 8pm - effectively two days for every one! Would we go again - like a shot, given the right itinerary and a similar bargain price. I think we would both like to try their two larger ships - Marina and Riviera, with 1100 pax, purely as there are more on-board activities like cooking and painting classes. Highly recommended!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
We decided to take this cruise specifically for the itinerary. It started on London went to Norwegian Fjords and Ireland (as well as other but wanted to see these ports. We have cruised 9 times on the "usual suspects" of cruise ... Read More
We decided to take this cruise specifically for the itinerary. It started on London went to Norwegian Fjords and Ireland (as well as other but wanted to see these ports. We have cruised 9 times on the "usual suspects" of cruise lines before this. People would always ask "so how was the food". For us, cruise food has always been mediocre - not many ways you can do a buffet. Oceania has set the bar when it comes to food. A+++. Where else can you get grilled lobster tails and huge shrimp at the casual grill every night. Service was also top notch. They failed us the same places so many have noted. Excursions. A total rip off for what you get and so far out of line when it comes to pricing. Entertainment - there really isn't any at night. One fellow guess who has sailed with Oceania in the past pointed out that the majority of entertainers and signers, etc are actually cruise ship workers. The person serving you breakfast in the morning will be the one signing and dancing for you tonight. And they are just plain bad. It is also clear that Oceania has made this a conscious choice.I did not a fellow cruiser on this trip that did not complain about the exact same things. Most all of them have also told them this on their feedback forms and yet they still do nothing about it. It is clear they made the trade off for excelling on the food and service areas and not wanting to be better in these other areas. Bottom line: If you want to go on a cruise where the food is world class and go to be after dinner ever evening then this cruise is probably for you. However, if you are interested in any form of night life or entertainment, then even the great food will not make up for this huge weak spot. Read Less
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